And then I realized I was pregnant. I was not ready for it. It was nearly three years post marriage, I was almost 27, by which time most females have had one or even two kids, and my family was on the verge of giving up. Actually it so happened that a week after my marriage, something I ate disagreed with me, and I threw up. And trust me, my family almost celebrated.
I was mentally prepared, the timing was planned, yet, I felt I was not ready to take up the responsibility. Next step was to find a good gynecologist in Delhi. There were several females in office with similar affliction- maybe it was the season, so I got the name of a high profile doctor during our preggies-at-notice-board-conversation. South Delhi elite doctoress. Made me wait for 2 hours. Put off #1. Then she looked at me and prescribed tests worth almost 5000 Rs. In the Nineties, that used to be a month’s salary for me. Put off #2. There was no put off #3 except her face which was pretty grumpy, not the kind an expectant mom should view. Was it done on purpose in order to appear disagreeable?
Anyway, never went back to her, found a middle class, affordable doctor at Lady Harding’s.
All those medicines and checkups, used to be pretty boring, but I went through all of it. The hunger pangs at 4 am in the morning was handled with a packet of biscuits. I never had any morning sickness, but post-cooking sickness. If I spent an hour in the kitchen, I could not eat anything afterwards. So, welcome to our first maid for the express purpose of cooking. The drives from Mayur Vihar to Vikaspuri, pillion on a scooter, just to eat the food cooked by my bachelor friends. Fortunately, I never had any Ben and Jerry moments. I wonder what my husband would have done, if I had asked for an not easily available delicacy in the middle of night.
People would take guesses at whether my first-born would be- boy or girl. I was told with the experienced certainty that only a mom in law can have, that I would have a boy. Her solid reasoning was based on my bump being only in the front and none in the back.
My bro-in-law had to get married during this time. Imagine Bikaner summer, with heavy saris, and covered head, 5 months of tummy and feeling totally bloated and not ready for festivities. All I wanted was to wear a thin loose gown, flop on bed and eat and sleep. That one week of ceremonies, with the petticoat biting the stomach, silky clothes sticking to me, the pasted smile with inner grimace, only solace was the good food. (I had to sleep in saris too)
I remember an episode in the seventh month, while I was still working, one day the lift was not working and I was told it would take a couple of hours to repair. I actually climbed 9 floors to my office, only to be chided by each and everyone on the awful risk that I took.
As a tradition, I had to go to Jodhpur to my mom’s home for my first baby. I was forbidden to travel in the eighth month, and ninth would be too late. So, the last day of the seventh month, I had to leave for my home town- those were train days. I still remember the drive from my home to the old Delhi railway station, pretty banged up drive. There was a bomb explosion in Chandni Chawk that day, right as my cab passed. Total traffic chaos, noise and fog due to the blast, just about managed to catch the train.
It was the month of September-October, still pretty warm. Having nothing to do, I used to knit and sew for my first born. Made small dresses, both blue and pink, printed frocks and flannel shirts and woolen socks. The date, as per the doctor was 27 Oct. My mom’s experience told her that my baby would be out around Diwali, because apparently the noise of the crackers scares them enough to want to wriggle out of the warm sanctuary. Diwali came and went, nothing happened. 27 October came and went, nothing happened. Pretty patient guy, in no hurry to see the big bad world! Doctor told me not to worry, it can be 10 days here or there. So I waited.
7th November, the pain waves started coming after dinner. It was absolutely not delicious or bitter-sweet, adjectives that I have heard that describe the labour pain. This pain just feels like you want to go to the loo, except that it is constipative and you cannot. And that recurs every few minutes. We waited till the waves were around 10 minutes apart which was around 8 am the next morning. And then off to the hospital. The doctor said, it will take more time and put me on IV to induce further pain. And then the waves really got big.
The events of that day are mostly a blur. All I remember are waves of severe pain rising from deep down and going all the way till the head, every few minutes and me holding on to the railings of the bed and screaming. Once the wave has passed, you open your eyes, look around, and brace yourself for the next one. I remember many people around, trying to soothe, but then they did not have to go through it. My husband looking awfully worried- it was first time for him too. My mom, mom in law all hovering around waiting and talking. Oh God, so almost 50% of the world population has to go through this???
After a few hours of this gruel, it still wasn’t enough for the baby to find a passage out, the doctor decided to finally do a C section. The waves never stopped. They put me in the stretcher to take me to the theater and I was wide open for the world to view for those few minutes. It was helpless and awkward, I still remember maids and doctors and interns coming and peeping in and telling me- abhi time hain.
Finally somewhere around 2 pm, I am told, my baby boy was brought into the world. A wafer thin, mousy looking, flat nosed, hair all over except at the head, extremely fair bundle of responsibility. Who would give me sleepless nights for the months to come. But then that is another story.